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Turn Your Netbook Into a Kindle

Before you drop $359 on a Kindle 2 or $489 on a Kindle DX, ask yourself this question: What does a Kindle have that your netbook doesn't?

Granted, a Kindle is thinner and lighter, and its battery lasts a lot longer on a charge. But netbooks have bigger, brighter, backlit screens (in color, no less), and they double as computers. (Last I checked, the Kindle couldn't run Word or load Web pages.)

So why not use the netbook you already own to read e-books, Kindle-style? Here's how.

One of the Kindle's big perks, of course, is Amazon's unsurpassed library of available e-books, which currently tops 275,000. But e-booksellers like, eReader, Fictionwise, and Mobipocket (which, interestingly, is owned by Amazon) offer plenty of mainstream, business, and academic titles. ( alone boasts 168,000.)

You can also stock up on public-domain classics from Project Gutenberg, which catalogs tens of thousands of books, all free for the download. And speaking of free, if you have a live Internet connection, Google Book Search makes a whopping 1.5 million titles available.

Different e-booksellers require different software for viewing their books. Alas, not all the viewers let you rotate the screen for a more book-like reading experience. Fortunately, a free utility like EeeRotate does the job.

So, there you have it. A netbook may require a bit more hoop-jumping for reading on the run, but it's a lot more capable than a Kindle and, depending on which model you buy, less money. (For example: You can get the mega-popular Eee PC 1000HA for as little as $290 shipped.)

Me, I'm pretty happy reading e-books on my iPhone -- but I'd definitely opt for a netbook before spending money on a single-purpose device like the Kindle. What about you?

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